Any town that's claimed both Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra as residents has got its cool factor firmly in place. Las Vegas is glitz, it's glamor, it's over the top with something for everyone. But can any place with such a smooth exterior truly cater to the nerdy traveler? The closet geek in all of us will love these examples of Las Vegas on the nerdier side.
The Pinball Hall of Fame
With over 10,000 square feet dedicated to the classic fun that is pinball, the Pinball Hall of Fame aims to house the world's largest collection of the games. Examples from the 1950s all the way up to the 90s are featured and available for anyone to play. The games all cost a quarter, and all the money collected goes to charity (mostly the Salvation Army). Good for an hour or an afternoon, this museum even holds a row of classic older video games, which you can use to impress your kids with your skills.
The Tournament of Kings
Do you go to Renaissance Faire every year? Have a membership in the SCA? If so, you're going to love the dinner show at the Excalibur Hotel, the Tournament of Kings. Knights jousting! Wizards casting spells! Wenches...wenching! The show is medieval action from start to finish, and includes a three-course meal that you, of course, eat with your hands. When you're finished with the show. you can hop right back on the Gray Line tour bus, which conveniently drives directly past the front of the hotel on its Hop-On Hop-Off tour.
The Hoover Dam
For engineering geeks, IT nerds, or anyone interested in touring one of the most impressive structures in the country, the tour of the Hoover Dam is a great way to spend an afternoon. It's about 30 miles outside Las Vegas. This is one of the most popular tours Gray Line offers in the area, and rightly so. Tour the huge structure itself, then check out the power plant that controls the operation. While you're in the area, you might want to take a look at Lake Mead, to show exactly what effect man can have on nature.
The National Atomic Testing Museum
Are you fascinated with Oppenheimer? Do you theorize about military history? Spend an afternoon in the National Atomic Testing Museum. This homage to all things nuclear holds well over 10,000 artifacts related to the beginning of the atomic age. You'll find exhibits on the Nevada test site, radiological technology, the Cold War, and even a section on Area 51, showing facts vs. myths.
The Neon Museum
The Neon Museum Boneyard tour is a one-hour guided tour of the glitz and glamor of old Las Vegas. This graveyard of flashy signs was even featured in an episode of the television series CSI. Experience the history of the neon sign, up close and personal, with examples of the finest of this delicate art. If you've seen the old photos of Las Vegas all lit up at night and wish you could see some of the old signs again, this is the place where they've gone.
The Grand Canyon
For hard-core geologists and other science nerds, nothing beats spending the day outdoors studying where dinosaurs roamed and tectonic plates used to shift. In other words, the wonders of the Grand Canyon. One of Gray Lines bestselling tours of all time is a day visiting the Grand Canyon, including stops at its widest and deepest points, as well as a visit to the National Geographic Visitors Center.
The Gold Spike
Probably the biggest party for nerds in Vegas, the Gold Spike offers everything a big kid could want in a cocktail party. There's a big bed in the middle of the floor, tons of board games you can check out, giant Jenga and beer pong, hopscotch, an outdoor lounge area, and even an indoor skating rink. Grab some friends and spend an evening just like you used to when you were eight years old, except with the added fun of classic and artisan cocktails.
The Sci Fi Center
Ready to get your freak on, but still want to retain your nerdy side? Head to the Sci Fi Center and see the best of both worlds. They offer Nerdlesque, a science fiction themed burlesque troop, with buxom beauties showing off their best Creature From the Black Lagoon vibe. This monthly show offers performances based on Star Wars, Labyrinth, and a variety of science fiction villains. There's also Game of Thrones night, Rocky Horror celebrations, and other visual treats.
For fans and fanatics of 1980s and 90s classic video games, this club is the place to go at night. Play Xbox 360 and PS3 games on HDTVs, drop your quarters into some of the 60 vintage video game consoles, or challenge a stranger at the bar to a game of Mortal Kombat. All the tables are built around video game systems, so you'll never miss a move waiting for your next drink to arrive.
CSI: The Experience
Get in touch with your inner Nick Stokes or Sarah Sidle in this interactive experience based on the hit show CSI. Easily bookable from your hotel at www.grayline.com, It's guided by videos made by real forensic scientists, plus additions with real cast members from the show. You'll identify hair, examine bullet casings, match DNA, and check out multiple crime scenes. Once you check out all the evidence and look over the crime scenes, you can take your conclusions to your supervisor to find out if you've cracked the case and caught the bad guy.
When it comes right down to it, Dragon*Con isn't the only place where a lot of nerds feel comfortable congregating. Whether you're a gamer or a science fanatic, you'll feel right at home in the uniquely geeky spots that make Las Vegas so special.